By Gabriel Ewepu
As the menace of illicit business in the mining sector continues to thrive, the Chief Executive Officer, Safewater Energy and Environmental Restoration Limited, SWEERGLOBAL, Dr Thaddaeus Thompson, has tasked the Federal Government to be serious in the fight against illegal mining and smuggling of solid minerals in the sector.
In an interview with Vanguard, Thompson said: “Nigeria’s borders must be protected against illegal movement of humans, weapons, drugs, contraband, foreign intruders and illegal miners who disregard environmental consequences.
“Particularly, illegal foreigners who sponsor illegal miners to mine without consideration of the impacts on the environment and human lives, and as a result have destroyed the environment in the bid to sprout out a living.
“Sources confirmed that such illegal practices have created an avenue for well-orchestrated smuggling of solid minerals out of the country in millions of US dollars daily. One important factor that has been undermined by successive governments is the understanding that a weak national border can destabilise a country, not only financially and socially but economically, as well.”
He further stated that, “When illegal activities at the border get out of control due to corruption, it scares investors away and become dangerous for legitimate traders. The result is loss of revenue for the government, loss of economic growth and development.”
The success illegal mining is having is evidence that our national borders are porous. It is like pouring water into a basket.”
However, the SWEERGLOBAL boss expressed optimism that, “It is not too late to reverse illegal mining activities and the illicit trade. Therefore our borders should promote lawful activities such as trade and travel, if we want to see progress in the mining sector towards economic prosperity.
“The government should provide jobs and create avenues for wealth creation in host communities because it will engage them and not to indulge in such dangerous activities that could jeopardize the health and environment of the community they live in.
“This is true and only achievable if Nigerian citizens or residence do not connive with wealthy foreign sponsors and smugglers to undermine our sovereignty as a nation. An effective policy can be determined from evaluating existing direct and indirect impacts such activities are having on every aspect of life on the homeland.
“The Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Department of State Security Service, Nigerian Police, Nigeria Security Civil Defense Corps, should have stronger partnership on intelligence and patrol along the borders with provision of modern technology for effective securing of the borders against illegal mining and smuggling.
“Effective measures should include investigating whether local authorities including traditional rulers are under the payroll of these sponsors, and if found culpable for aiding and abetting their illicit trade, should be dealt with according to the Minerals Act of 2007. This will also go a long way to eradicate these foreign criminals.”